Sunday, 24 August 2014

Food For Thought

I make a trip down to the laundry facilities (in this building) every two weeks. The laundromat consists of two rooms - the first one inside the hall door has washers only while the second one contains the dryers as well as four or five more washers. For a couple of years there was a tall bookcase just inside the door leading to the dryers. The bookcase was available to anybody and contained books which neighbors had read and wanted to pass on.

I have 'borrowed' some of those books and - as I live in a 'bachelor' unit - I  do not have space for a large bookcase so I return any that I have borrowed to those shelves and add to them some books which I have purchased and do not believe would be of any interest to my sister.

A year or two ago the laundry facility was updated and the bookcase was removed (much to my regret!)

However, when I went down there to tend to my laundry a couple of weeks ago I saw a pile of books sitting on the 'folding table' in the middle of the room. Books are like magnets to me and I cannot ignore them so I scanned the titles. All but one of them were of little interest to me but that one - near the bottom of the pile - intrigued me so I brought it up here and have read it.  

It is a small book titled "In Search of the Seven Colors" and it was written by Anil Giga (an author whom I had never heard of before). The story begins here in Toronto, Ontario and quickly moves to the area of the Indian subcontinent not far from Mount Everest. Once there the narrator sets out to locate a friend who was traveling in that region.

Travel in that part of the world is not easy - no super highways and (seemingly) not all that reliable railway service - so it took the author a while before he reached his friend. In the meantime he interacted with other people along the way and his understanding of the culture and the thinking was expanded. Also - on that trek - were a couple of other people who were followers of the local faith systems and they shared them with Giga.

The meaning of the book title is that the 'hero' will find seven items along the way that match each of the seven colors of the rainbow. - and each color has a specific significance. They are:-

                                                        Green - Meditation
                                                        Red    - Relinquish Pride
                                                        Orange - Non-judgment
                                                        Yellow - Generosity
                                                        Blue - Express Your Higher Self
                                                        Violet - Life is a Lesson
                                                        Indigo - Discover Your Plan

I have been a Christian ever since some Mennonite people taught Sunday School in the Community Hall in Ruskin, B.C. Since then I have studied Theology, interacted with folk of many religions and denominations, have been the pastor of a few congregations and I have prayed and pondered. One conclusion that I have arrived at is that I am suspicious of those who claim that they have discovered 'the one true religion' and that all the other paths are wrong and misleading. This is especially true of some of the minor sects and - so it seems to me - to the followers of Islam. How can one group - be it small or large - claim that they have found the 'Real Truth' and that everybody else is wrong?

No - it is extremely unlikely that I will convert to the Jehovah Witness faith, Christian Science nor Scientology (three of the groups who claim that they are the exclusive discovers of the 'true faith'). I agree more with those who say, "There are many paths to God and Christianity is but one of them".

I am glad that I stumbled upon this book (maybe it would be truer to say that it was placed where I would discover it?). It has given me much to ponder and - if you should stumble upon this same book - pick it up, read it, and ponder as well!

What am I going to do with my copy? My oldest sister lives in the small Cariboo town of 100 Mile House, B.C. She is an avid reader but has to travel many miles to towns with bookstores so I send on to her most of the books that I pick up here in Toronto. After reading them she - in turn - sends them on to daughters and grandchildren who love to read as well.



Wednesday, 13 August 2014


At the Memoir Writing Group this past Monday, one of the cards pulled from the coffee can was the title of this blog. After writing for up to 20 minutes or so, each of us read what she/he had written to the rest of the group. When I read my submission one of the members suggested that I should post it to my blog site - so here goes!

There is one facet of life which does bug me. Some  people seem to think that they (being of a certain race or religion or whatever) have a claim upon perceived entitlements. Whoa there!

My maternal grandmother was the oldest daughter of a man who claimed to be Irish -  his surname was DeLacey/Hollis - but that sounds French to me. A while back I read an article about the reign of King Henry II of England who tried to conquer Ireland but had to settle for placing some of his knights in various parts of the country. I understand that my ancestor gained a fiefdom (probably along the West Coast somewhere) at that time.

My great-grandmother was a concert pianist who traveled around Europe giving recitals and Grandma got to travel with her some of the time. The family was wealthy - possibly of the 'landed gentry' - so Grandma grew up in the 'lap of luxury'.

However, she was very headstrong and - as she was beautiful - she did not lack for beaux. Somewhere she met a soldier who was a Cockney, married him and (when his regiment was posted to Hong Kong) she went there too. While there she became pregnant with Mom and - shortly after that - her husband was killed during a cricket match (he was hit on the head by a bat!).

Grandma had no other option but to return to London where she went to her parent's home only to have the door slammed in her face! She had met her sister-in-law before leaving London so she went there looking for assistance. The sister-in-law was a Cockney (probably Granddad was as well!) and her address ended with 'Bow E3' which indicates that neighborhood.

The nearby hospital was St Batholomew ('St. Bart's') and that was where Mom was born. As Grandma was a beautiful young woman who had to support herself and her infant, she became a dancer in a chorus line.

Upon the outbreak of World War I, the man whom I knew as my 'Granddad' Ernie Brown joined the Canadian army, his unit was sent to Belgium and - while in a church - they were gassed by the Germans. Being sent back to London to recuperate, he took in a performance of the London hit 'Chou Chin Chow' and was smitten by one of the chorus girls - the woman whom I knew as 'Grandma'.

By the time that the Browns returned to Canada many of Granddad's siblings had migrated west to B.C. and were settled in North Vancouver. Grandma and her infant (Mom) sailed from England to Halifax and then rode the train to Granddad's hometown of Theodore, Saskatchewan from where Granddad took them on to B.C.

Upon arriving there, Granddad went looking for a suitable property to purchase and he settled upon the abandoned homestead which lay at the foot of Iron Mountain in Ruskin.

Thus Grandma went from a life of relative luxury to living in the forest in very rural Ruskin! Mom grew up there and attended the Ruskin Public School. As Mom was an outgoing woman, she made lifelong friends both in North Vancouver (where Granddad had a cousin) and in Ruskin.

Grandma belonged to a community women's group and she attended their meetings. When she returned home Granddad would be sitting in the living room reading. Upon entering Grandma would begin a tirade about something that one of the women may have said or how a certain woman looked and so on. Granddad would continue with his reading until he had had enough and then he would put down the reading material, look at Grandma - and exclaim, "Shut up woman!"

Except for a number of Japanese, Ruskin was largely a Caucasian community. However, this included a number of people who were NOT British and these were the folk whom Grandma took exception to when it came to social interaction.  Granddad - on the other hand - got along well with everybody and was not in the least concerned about a neighbor's ethnicity.

Granddad often regaled we children with stories of growing up in the farming village of Theodore, Saskatchewan. By that time the pogroms in rural  Russia caused many of those people to migrate and - as the Prairies are similar territories to the Russian steppes - many settled there.

Granddad was a very outgoing man so - while he and his buddies did play pranks upon these people  - he came to respect and then to like them.

Dad had traveled across Canada during the Great Depression by riding in boxcars in freight trains. His life experiences before that and the experiences then led him to be open and accepting as well.

Grandma left her family on bad terms but she still clung to the idea of 'privilege' and that led her to be suspicious of all who were not British. Of course insult was added to injury by her only child marrying a 'Damn Frenchman!' - but I did hear Grandma comment to a friend, "Gladys and Dan do have such lovely children!" 

A few blogs back I wrote about the parties held in our home and upon Grandma's request. All of those friends were Brits (some Scots and the rest English).

The head woman in the 'Chou Chin Chow' chorus also married a Canadian serviceman and he brought her to his family home in Victoria, B.C. She and Grandma stayed in touch so Grandma would go over to the Island for a visit and I remember being on one of our vacations at our grandparent's home when - just before we were to leave to catch a bus home - this friend arrived and Alda and I were introduced. That was the only time that I saw her (Daisy).

As I said earlier in this blog - Grandma did not trust anybody who was NOT British!


Friday, 8 August 2014


One day (when I was about five years old) Dad had a medical appointment at a doctor's office in Mission and Mom needed to do some shopping so all of us went. At that time there was a passenger train that came out from Vancouver on the Canadian Pacific Railway line each morning, went up the valley to Mission, and then returned. Also, there was the fledgeling Pacific Stage Lines bus which covered the same route.

Dad and Mom decided that we would take the train into Mission and back and I was so excited! We went to the railway station in Ruskin and waited and waited and waited - but no train! There was no other option but that we take the bus. I was so disappointed that I was sobbing - and I have never had the opportunity to ride on a train in the Fraser Valley - nor did I get to ride on any train until I was in my late teens.

Alda and Leo had met each other, fallen in love, were married and moved to Forest Grove in the Cariboo country. I was an articled student at a chartered accountant's office in New Westminster by that time and was earning a salary so - when my vacation time arrived - I decided to spend part of it with Alda and Leo at Forest Grove.

I had heard that a railway connecting Vancouver and Prince George was being planned by the B.C. Provincial Government and that it had been completed. As the train stopped at Exeter (the railway station for the 100 Mile House area) I decided to take the train and ride in more comfort than a seat on a Greyhound bus! As the entire trip from end to end could be accomplished in one day, the train consisted of an engine, a baggage car and a passenger coach. It left the 'home' station in North Vancouver at 8:00 AM and arrived at  Exeter in mid afternoon (a railway employee came through the car with sandwiches and drinks so there were refreshments).

The line was brand new and - for most of the route - the scenery was spectacular! After passing through the suburban areas of North and West Vancouver the railway hugged the eastern side of Howe Sound (which actually is a fjord) stopping at Britannia Beach and Woodfibre on the way to Squamish which is at the head of the sound. Leaving Squamish the railway climbed up to what is now the resort area around Whistler and on to the Pemberton Valley.

                                                    The Pemberton Valley

Thanks to Michael W. of Vancouver for giving me permission to use two of his photos.

Leaving Pemberton the railway passes along the shore of two mountain lakes - Anderson and Seton. I am not sure if the following photo was taken along the shore of either of them but this will give you an idea of the scenery.

                                    This photo is also through the generosity of Michael W.

Leaving the lakes the railway descends to the bank of the Fraser River and the historic town of Lillooet and then wends its way up onto the interior plateau known locally as 'Cariboo Country'.

I never rode on the railway beyond Exeter - my travels further north were always by driving up the Cariboo Highway (or riding the Greyhound bus through Williams Lake and Quesnel to Prince George).

In Australia I rode on trains to Alice Springs and back - which were memorable rides described in my blogs about living there - from Kalgoorlie to Melbourne (mentioned in my blogs about traveling around that continent) - around the State of Victoria and from Brisbane north to Gladstone and back  while journeying to and from Heron Island.

On a trip to visit me a few years ago, Ric had his itinerary disrupted by sudden changes to flights on American Airlines so had to return to his home via Amtrak. He was so impressed by that experience he has promised me that we will do that same trip together.

I am looking forward to that!  

Sunday, 3 August 2014


For a reason which I cannot understand, always I have disliked thunderstorms! It is not the lightning which bugs me but the crashing BOOMS of the thunder.

Thunderstorms are - of course - natural to nature and (when I was a child) I thought that they were solely a summer phenomena. NO! Sometimes they occur during the other seasons of the year as well.

Growing up on the West Coast of Canada I witnessed - and heard - many. If that happened after I had gone to bed I would hide under the covers making sure that the blanket and sheet covered me completely so I would not see the lightning.

I remember one spring or summer when we experienced an inordinate number of those storms and there were reports of severe damage as well as injuries and deaths. That scared me.

Australia is almost an entirely subtropical continent so the Brisbane area did experience numerous storms. Christmas and New Year are summer festivals down there and I remember one New Year Eve when we were sent home early to enjoy the holiday.

About half a mile from the boardinghouse was the center of the suburb of Strathfield. Although the skies were threatening I felt that I had to buy a certain item so I walked down to the business section in order to make a purchase.  While on my way back home the  heavens opened and there was a tremendous downpour of rain and hail which was accompanied by a big flash of lightning and a deafening crash of thunder. In the newspaper the next day there was an item about that storm and the news that the marquee on the movie house - about a mile ahead of me in the direction that I was walking - had been hit. That was the reason that the crash seemed to be extra loud.

That is the closest that I have ever come to a lightning strike.

In a previous blog I wrote about Dad, Alda, I and a couple of Alda's in-laws being in a row boat out on Canim Lake (near 100 Mile House in the B.C. Cariboo Country) when a thunderstorm blew over.  It also was a loud one and suddenly we could not see where we were heading because of the heavy rain and the waves on the lake being whipped up by the strong wind. We made it safely to shore but I do not want to be out on a body of water during a storm and while in a rowboat ever again! I am just not that adventurous!

Here in Ontario often there are summer thunder showers and - occasionally - accompanied by a tornado. Personally, I have not encountered one of the latter - nor do I want to!

Those of you who enjoy thunderstorms are welcome to do so - just do not bother inviting me to come along!

By the way - I appreciate the interest shown towards my blogs but please wait until I have finished writing and editing before you read them! *GRIN*